Rugelach

"little twists"

I love that marrying into a Jewish family means that I get to celebrate the holidays for what basically adds up to two months. First, we have the preparations for Thanksgiving, then the actual event itself, and then we quickly transition into Hanukkah, then the Christmas season, then New Years! Living in New York only amplifies that feeling. The city is, simply put (and no matter how cliche), an absolutely fabulous place to be in November and December. Even though the streets, bars, and restaurants are packed with tourists, everything seems rushed, and you can never figure out just what to get that one last friend or family member (because you can only buy them so many shirts that say “Brooklyn”), things still feel special and exciting. Living here sometimes gets old. There are days where I’m on my way home, the subway is packed (and smelly), someone says something inappropriate, and the windows in my apartment are leaking, I think “What the hell am I doing here?” But this time of year, I am concentrating on baking, cooking, eating, drinking, and celebrating, so I’m too busy to notice the bum peeing on the street on my way to work. I’m like Mary Tyler Moore, ya’ll! Only with fewer berets and a blog…and I don’t live in Minneapolis. When I was a kid I always thought the show was based in New York, for some reason. Either way, you can be sure to find me at one of the many holiday markets around town this year. Rugelach-20Rugelach-14 This is what we call manual labor. I don’t think I had ever had rugelach before moving to the city, but it’s now one of my all-time favorites. The name literally means “little twists” (or so I’m told), which I love. They are delicate, flakey, and full of flavor. You can make them with almost any filling to suite your tastes, and they taste kind of similar to a croissant, without all of the back-breaking work (although there is a bit of work involved). This recipe comes to you from what I would argue to be one of the best establishments in New York, Mile End Deli. I swear, I feel like this place just knows me inside and out. Their rugelach baked up beautifully, with almost peel-apart layers and a lovely, golden crust. I made a few different fillings; one with chocolate and cinnamon, one with strawberry jam, and one with just straight up Nutella. Each were well received and, once you get past kneading cream cheese into dough, super fun to make. Kramer and I snacked on these the day that I made them, then brought them into each of our offices, where they were devoured. Even if you don’t celebrate Hanukkah, you should make these! They will soon become an essential part of your holiday cookie making for years to come. Rugelach_Six Start by pulsing together your flour and butter, then quickly mix in the cream cheese, salt, and sour cream with your hands. Wrap the dough in foil, chill, and when you’re ready, knead it a bit to make it less sticky (on a well floured surface, of course). Rugelach_Jam While the dough chills, I recommend making your jam and prepping your chocolate. Rugelach-11 Roll the dough out into an even circle. Rugelach-13 Top with the chocolate mixture, and cut into 16 equal sized pieces. Rugelach-15 Then roll ‘em up! Rugelach-16 Brush with the egg, sprinkle with sugar, and bake at 350 degrees F, until golden. Rugeleach_Double Do the same with the strawberry jam ones, if you’re doing two different kinds. Rugelach-20 Allow to cool before devouring. Rugelach-25

Rugelach
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 32 rugelach
 

Soft, delicate cookies wrapped around rich chocolate and sweet strawberry filling for a classic Jewish dessert.
Ingredients
For the Dough:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized cubes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound regular cream cheese (on average, this is 16 ounces or 2 of those blocks you can buy at the store), chilled and cubed
  • ¼ cup regular sour cream
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • raw sugar, for decorating
For the Chocolate Filling:
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate, finely chopped (do not use chocolate chips for this, or if you do, you’ve gotta chop them!)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • *This is enough for 1 round; if you only want to make chocolate rugelach, double the filling amount.
For the Strawberry Filling:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 lb. (16 ounces) strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • *This is enough for 1 round; if you only want to make strawberry rugelach, double the filling amount.

Instructions
For the Dough:
  1. I highly recommend using a food processor to make these for a more even dough, although you can certainly just use your mixer, or, if you are extremely adventurous, some good old fashioned elbow grease. This is a tough one to do by hand, though, so just know that you are going to get a work out and you need to move fast!
  2. So, now that we’ve covered that, add your cubed butter and flour to your food processor and process for about 30 seconds or so, until the butter is broken up well and the mixture looks like wet sand. Just be sure to work quickly so the butter doesn’t melt (this is why we make this cookie in the winter). Transfer the butter and flour mixture to a large mixing bowl (the biggest one you’ve got) and add in the salt, cream cheese, and sour cream. Mix everything together quickly, breaking up the cream cheese with your hands and working it well into the flour, until the mixture is crumbly and only pea-sized amounts of cream cheese remain visible. Again, work quickly so that the cream cheese doesn’t warm up too much. A few ribbons of cream cheese are fine; in fact, they will be delicious once baked.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of foil (I was wary of this, too – don’t we all usually use plastic wrap? Just go for the foil, trust me…I think it may help to dry the dough out a bit and make it less sticky), press down on it slightly, and form the dough into a thick disk. Wrap the disk tightly in the foil, and chill in the refrigerator for as little as 20 minutes or as long as overnight (I left mine in there for about an hour). While your dough chills, make your filling(s) of choice. Tip: I made one batch with just straight up Nutella and it was awesome, for those of you that don’t feel like making a filling from scratch.
  4. When your dough has chilled, you are ready to fill ‘em and bake ‘em. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a few baking trays with parchment paper and sprinkle the paper with some raw sugar. Unwrap the dough, divide it into 2 parts, and put one part back in the fridge so it stays cold. Flour your work surface extremely well, then knead the dough a bit to make it less sticky and more maleable. Roll the dough into a ball, then press it down until it’s about ¾-inch thick. The sides may crack a bit at first, but just keep working it until you have a smooth sided disk, adding more flour as needed to keep your hands from sticking to the dough.
  5. Roll the dough out into a 10 to 12-inch circle of even thickness (mine was 12 to 13-inches). Fold the dough into a half-moon and use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut away any uneven sides, as you want the circle to be as symmetrical as possible for even cookies. Unfold the dough so it’s a full circle again.
  6. If you are using the chocolate filling, brush the dough with your butter, then sprinkle the chocolate evenly over everything, pressing down a bit to make the chocolate stick. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the circle into 16 equal-sized wedges (I used a plastic ruler for accuracy…I always use a ruler when working with dough, actually, and I can’t recommend them as an essential kitchen tool highly enough).
  7. Roll the dough up, starting with the bigger side, tightly and carefully, to make the classic rugelach shape. Place the rugelach seam side down onto your parchment. Continue with the rest of your dough, then brush each rugelach with your egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through baking, until the cookies are a light, golden brown. Allow to cool before moving and serving. These will store well in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature, and will freeze well for up to 3 months.
For the Chocolate Filling:
  1. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and chop your chocolate. Melt your butter and let it cool. When you are ready to use, brush the butter over the rolled out rugelach, sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then press the chocolate down evenly over the dough. Roll up and bake.
For the Strawberry Filling:
  1. In a medium sized pot, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer, and stir constantly, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Bring the mixture to a simmer again, and without stirring, allow it to simmer for a solid 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add in the berries, and stir. Bring the temperature up to medium, and stirring frequently, cook the berries down until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to mash the berries up a bit. This may look watery at first, but have no fear! It will thicken up.
  2. When the mixture looks thick enough, move the pot to an ice bath and, being careful not to get any cold water into the jam, stir vigorously until the jam has cooled a bit and looks thick. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the top of the jam, to protect it from forming a skin, and set aside until ready to use. This makes a great regular ol’ jam, too, if you have leftovers! It will keep well in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight container (or a few months if you sterilize the jar you put it in).
  3. When you are ready to use the strawberry filling, spread it out over the rugelach dough (use a light touch, you really don’t want to overfill it as it will seep out and burn to the bottom of the pan/cookies) and bake as directed above.

Adapted From

 

38 Responses

  1. I married into a Jewish family…almost 12 years ago. Wow, time flies. And I still haven’t made rugelach. You inspire me and I love it and want to make it, now!

  2. Megsiemay says:

    Man, I miss rugelach. Once in college I convinced my Jewish friend that he needed to snag his grandmother’s recipe and we could make a batch. He did – but wouldn’t let me copy the recipe down! So the wonderful rugelach that we made was a one-day only delight (it really did only last one day).

    This shiksa needs more rugelach!!

  3. Faye says:

    Rugelah is definitely one of my all time faves too! I’ve only made it once using a Barefoot Contessa recipe and didn’t like the way they turned out. Yours are so pretty and look sooo good, I definitely am going to give them a try this holiday. Cheers!

  4. Rachael says:

    I LOVE rugelah! I had it for the first time at Canter’s, the best of the best in Jewish food here in L.A. and Hooooommmmmggggg my favorite. I am definitely going to be tackling this recipe at some point…after the holidays!

  5. Molly says:

    Those look delicious and challenging too! I’ve had my share of rugelach before but I’ve never made them. I like anything that comes with a fruity filling.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I will have to make these later this month!!

  7. My fiance is half Jewish, and I made noodle kugel for the first time earlier this week. I will have to try my hand at Rugelach – especially because we’re big Nutella fans!

  8. Megan says:

    Oh man. These look so flaky and perfect!

  9. Stacey Evans says:

    I have been eating Rugelach for years. I have had Raspberry and Apricot before but not the chocolate or nutella, I have never made these, I have always bought them at the bakery. I can’t wait to try these, thanks for another great recipe! Stacey

  10. Jane M says:

    I’ve been making rugelach for years from a recipe my mom gave me. Sadly my mom passed away last month and I started going thru her things. I found the rugelach recipe from The Sisterhood Cookbook published in 1959! There are many other recipes from this great spiral book mom used. This makes me happy and sad at the same time. But both my kids love to bake with me in the kitchen so hopefully the Jewish recipes will live on. And are they ever delicious!!! Happy Holidays!

    • Sydney says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Jane. I’ll bet your mother would be happy to know you found that book and are sharing it with your children. My mother lost her father around this time of year over 10 years ago, and it’s still hard! But we still remember him and tell stories about him, and I’m sure you will do the same for your own mom.

  11. Lynna says:

    I love this holiday season because everywhere just seem so festive with happy people. I have never tried rugelach, but always wanted to whenever I see a recipe for it. I would so make these tomorrow, but I don`t have sour cream!

  12. Cindie says:

    Yum. I love rugelach but I’ve never considered making them before! The market near my job makes great ones but they’re pricey, this recipe must be a better/cheaper way to go about stuffing my face!

  13. Lindsey says:

    1. I might apply to grad school just so i can have you bring me an equally delicious dinner

    2. these rugelach look absolutely delicious… way classier than the pre-packaged ones I’ve tried from Fresh Direct. Too bad no one at my office deserves something so pretty and tasty! ;-)

  14. Never had rugelach but they definitely look yummy! The more holidays to be celebrated, the merrier, and it makes winter go faster. Love that you made the strawberry filling too.

  15. liz says:

    wow! I am definitely going to try these – so freaking attractive, in their golden rolliness. Love the sound of that chocolate filling too!

  16. [...] Rugelach - These are cute little twists and I figure I could eat about a dozen of them without taking a breath. These would be awesome for a Christmas or Christmas Eve breakfast treat. (@ Crepes of Wrath) [...]

  17. These are absolutely gorgeous!

  18. Peggy says:

    I’m used to making Hamantaschen for Jewish friends around this time, but I think it’s about time I try my hand at rugelach to give them a welcome surprise! These look picture perfect!

  19. Deb says:

    Your rugelach is so scrumptious! Adore the flaky layers of dough and the sweet moist filling! What a tasty way to celebrate the holiday season.

  20. Rugelach has been on my bucket list for so long! I can’t wait to tackle this sometime in the near year! I could have like 10 of these for breakfast.

  21. JulieD says:

    OMG like Chung-Ah, I have been wanting to make these forever!! And I would eat them all myself and not share, is that bad? Okay, so I need to make a trip to NYC or you down to Florida so we can bake these together? ;)

  22. Juli says:

    I am baking a similar recipe right now. One with cherry preserves and walnuts, the other with peach. Yours look gorgeous! Love food photography.

  23. Helen says:

    Just spent hours trying out this recipe. What a colossal waste of time , ingredients and money. Strawberries didn’t congeal so I didn’t use it as filling. Did chocolate instead. Butter oozed out, dough didn’t rise or brown or cook thoroughly (before this, I made 8 walnut and poppy seed rolls which all came out perfect, so it’s not my convection oven or my skills.) Needless to say, I won’t be trying any more recipes from this blog.
    I can’t even rate this recipe low enough.

    • Sydney says:

      I’m sorry that happened to you, Helen! There are a number of reasons why this would have happened. If your butter oozed out of the dough and it didn’t rise, it is because you both kneaded the dough too much and the butter was too warm when it was added to the flour. I have had many recipes fail because of human error, so just know that you aren’t alone and it happens to everyone! Happy Holidays!

  24. [...] before Christmas that were AMAZING! The original recipe is posted on one of my favorite food blogs, Crepes of Wrath (where they have much better photography than I do, so be sure to check it [...]

  25. I can’t even handle this, these look perfect

  26. Stefanie says:

    I made these today on a whim (I love rugelach, and I’ve never made it before) while it was in the fridge I read through the comments and got scared because my butter was half soft (microwave) and I probably over mixed the dough, and I used some whole wheat flour in the mix. Anyway- 20 minutes of worry about my butter melting out somewhere and then suddenly I could smell them throughout my house. They are AMAZING! Even with my human error they are fantastic and I look forward to many years of practice until I have perfected this recipe. Thanks for making it available.

    – Stefanie

  27. […] making them on your own could ever be as dreamy as the ones found in the market, but I found this recipe if you dare to try it. Maybe one day I’ll give it a […]

  28. Shelby says:

    I had the same issue as Helen. Butter oozing and not cooking. I’m sure that I did something wrong but, my butter was cold. I won’t be trying these again either becausebtheynwere to pricey to throw in the garbage !

  29. KitchenKim says:

    Good afternoon! I finished making the strawberry rugelah recipe last night using store bought strawberry jam and they came out beautifully! And currently I have your chocolate dreams in the oven. Even though I do see a bit of butter oozing, I was sparing with my brush and the 18 rugelah are rising and baking perfectly! Thank you for posting this beautiful recipe:).

  30. angelamroberts says:

    This is just the recipe I’ve been looking for. I’m going to use it for a Christmas cookie exchange. I love all three fillings. They look perfect.

  31. swolf says:

    Fantastic recipe! I left out the sour cream and they were still delicious. Bringing them to an early Hanukkah party.

  32. Grace says:

    Yum yum! I found this recipe while searching the internet for a chocolate rugelach recipe similar to the one my mom made when I was young. These turned out to be pretty darn delicious. I had to bake them for about 28-30 minutes, instead of the 15-20 recommended, which was surprising, as my oven usually runs pretty hot. I do have new, very heavy duty pans, which might account for it. My first tray I did at 20 minutes was definitely undercooked, but with the extra 8-10 minutes, they are really good. I would say more of a golden brown than light golden brown to be cooked all the way through, in my case. I used semisweet Ghiradelli chocolate, as the recipe doesn’t specify, but I did add about 2 T of cocoa and 2 T of unsweetened chocolate to try to keep the filling from being too sweet. All and all, very tasty, and though it was certainly an entire afternoon of cooking, I think the end product is worth it. Thanks for the recipe!

  33. […] {via Sunset; featured image via Crepes of Wrath} […]

  34. Morgan says:

    My family wanted to try making homemade rugelach for our family hanukah party yesterday, so we googled around and found this recipe! I am so glad we found it, it turned out great! We also had to bake it much longer than 15-20 minutes, maybe more like 30, but they were delish and everyone at the party said it was the best rugelach they ever had! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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